Veterans Outreach Center steps up suicide prevention measures

The Veterans Outreach Center has added a director of risk management to step up its suicide prevention measures.

Christopher Durkin joined the nonprofit firm’s leadership team Sept. 1 to focus on crisis mitigation for staff and clients with a heavy focus on suicide prevention at VOC. As president of Blackhawk Security Management Group, Durkin also is a retired combat veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army.

“We are so pleased that Chris will be undertaking this important work at Veterans Outreach Center,” VOC Executive Director Laura Stradley said in a statement. “We are privileged to have a man with his experience on our team, guiding our efforts with regard to risk, crisis and suicide prevention and supporting our veteran families. We look forward to participating in and leading community-wide discussions to reduce the rates of veteran suicide.”

Prior to establishing Blackhawk Emergency Management Group, Durkin served as information technology site director in support of East Coast U.S. Navy S.E.A.L. operations. He later moved to Rochester and became the Monroe County Health Department strategic national stockpile coordinator.

Between 2005 and 2017, veteran suicide rates increased by nearly 26 percent, according to data from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Veterans are twice as likely as their civilian counterparts to die by suicide, officials noted.

Since 1975, suicide prevention measures have been a focal point during the month of September in conjunction with World Suicide Prevention Day, which was Sept. 10. Veterans Outreach Center has been committed to improving the quality of life for veterans and their families since 1973. The organization offers free, veteran-specific services that include employment counseling, vocational training and housing for homeless veterans.

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